Gold has been a precious metal since time immemorial. Apparently, the Romans used hydraulic power to extract gold in a region located northwest of Spain. Two centuries later, the Romans withdrew leaving a devastated landscape.
Gold has been a precious metal since time immemorial. Apparently, the Romans used hydraulic power to extract gold in a region located northwest of Spain. Two centuries later, the Romans withdrew leaving a devastated landscape. Since no further industrial activity was done in this region, the ancient traces of this ancient technology are still evident in the sheer faces on the mountainsides that are today used for agricultural. This landscape is known as Las Medulas Gold Mining Area.
The landscape visible today combines the Roman industrial and domestic elements that have survived in a relatively good state of preservation. Of course there have been some drastic human intervention and natural processes.
The alluvial gold deposits were exploited during the Iron Age in the Las Medulas region. Although the evidence of this is largely circumstantial (from the excavations done), it is still evident that gold exploitation predates the Romans.
The northwestern part of the Iberian Peninsula was the last frontier to be conquered by the Romans during the campaign of Augustus in 29-19BC. A Roman road was built and Roman urban centers started coming up. Although in reduced numbers, the local ethnic tribes continued to live in the area around the fortified hill forts.
At around 1st century AD, formalized Roman settlements were set with the sole aim of exploiting the mineral resources found here. The Gold mining belt formed the province of Hispania Citerior that included the military regions of Callaeciae and Asturia. There is a common belief that the gold mining areas of Wales involved slave labor – this belief is wrong. The people who worked around these mines were free, not slaves.
During the Romans time, serious hydraulic engineering was put in place by building dams and cutting channels. Proper road network was enhanced and serious army battalions were kept in place to counter any aggression from the competing forces around.
The landscape features water reservoirs, army barracks, major Roman roads, gravity canals used when mining, and many other mining infrastructures. Trust me; you would want to see the ingenious Roman’s technology at its best. The landscape is as alluring as it is historical.
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